Sending high quality, personalized thank you cards is a simple and very effective way for your business to stand out from the rest, busting through noise sent by your competitors. Thank you cards also have some very positive psychological benefits you should be aware of. Hands down, sending personalized high quality cards to your customers at the right time can be one of the most effective ways to increase referrals.
Who do you send them to? Let’s keep it simple. Most businesses will agree that it’s a good idea to send thank you cards to customers that have made a sizable purchase (think about auto dealerships) or clients that have recently signed up for an enduring service. But most businesses don’t consider sending thank you cards to existing patrons that provide referral business. It is important to note, however, that these customers are the most important people to show gratitude to. Why? Because research shows that they are the most likely to refer again. They have not only proven themselves as satisfied customers but also that they are “talkers”. They are the unpaid army of promoters of your company that have a specific interest in strengthening your company’s bottom line. So, let’s show them we appreciate them!
Why aren’t many company’s doing this? This is a good question, so let’s get to the bottom of it. The biggest reason is that most people think to themselves “I never asked them to refer in the first place, and they referred, they will likely do it again”. This may be true, but why leave it to chance? The truth is that your promoters want and deserve to be recognized and appreciated. If you show them you care with a basic act of gratitude they are much more likely to keep referring. Even if you did actively ask for the referral and it came through, it is equally important that you thank them. We can never assume that our promoters will continue to talk about us. And saying “thank you” can go a long way.
The second reason many companies fail to thank their referral sources is that they simply do not know who is referring. There are two painless techniques that can tackle this problem. First, for every new customer you get ask the question “Who referred you to us?” See previous post. Then, you take this information and input it into an effective referral tracking system so that you can follow up with a lively “Thank you!”. You need to have a system in place for keeping track of your referral sources. An effective tracker should be simple to input and follow. At best it will offer reminders or even do it for you automatically.
Why is it powerful? For several reasons. As mentioned earlier, it will show your active promoters that you appreciate them. It is that easy. But in addition, it is about setting the mood for your customers that giving referrals is the right thing to do; that by referring your business to others they are doing exactly what they should be doing. Your company is providing a great service, and this is the best possible thing they could do for you in return.
Let’s explore this just a little further. There is a core “weapon of influence” outlined in Robert Cialdini’s classic book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion that comes into play, that of reciprocity. Cialdini outlines an experiment performed by a university professor who sent out Christmas cards to a sample of perfect strangers. Surprisingly Christmas cards came pouring in from people he had never met or even heard of him. Why? Because they felt obligated to return the favor of something as easy as sending a card in the mail. It is basic psychology. When we do something as easy as sending a card in the mail thanking a customer for a referral it sets the stage for additional referrals. Because the communication is targeted to referral sources they will feel obligated to return the favor with additional referrals.
What type of card should you send? Again, let’s keep it simple. More personal is better. Touch your customers in a way that most people don’t. So many people these days send email for this type of communication. And yes, this is better than nothing. But the effort is not there. Personalized thank you cards sent via post blow emails out of the water. But don’t just send any card, make it something special. Think about all the junk mail people receive today. Consider sending something that stands out. After all, you want the envelope opened and the heartfelt message read.